This essay is my submission to Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw Challenge. Anthony asked, "Foodies: What does it mean to cook food well?" And this is my answer... If you like what you read, please vote to support my entry as I would love to get published in the paperback edition of his bestselling book, Medium Raw!
As the food porn industry grows via Twitter, Facebook, and the Confederacy of Food Bloggers, I am constantly bombarded by images of places I would love to eat if only I lived rent free and could sell my not so great car in order to pay the tariff. Seriously, I look at the photos from places like Le Bernardin in New York and I simply drool all over myself thinking of the freshness, the execution, and the final feeling of decadent satiation and then suddenly being crushed by the freight train full of cash leaving my bank account as the server snickers under his breath at the very lack of metal in my very pedestrian bank card.
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="311"] Read about Le Bernadin on the Keeper Collection blog[/caption]
It is this feeling of panic that I have had on numerous occasions coupled with lingering restaurant guilt that I always seem to have when the wine buzz is gone that leads to the theory that if one can cook well, one can avoid the pain of knowing they cannot afford such guilty pleasures as a great New York eatery. Let's face it, I am not suggesting you cheap out and cook some half ass ingredients and drink plonk just to save cash. I am saying if you can prepare foods like the great chefs in the comfort of your own home and you have a wine shop case discount to take the sting out of your Morey St Denis price, you can create some pretty darn good meals at a fraction of the cost of dining in a great restaurant.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="230"] Classic starters at a Michael dinner[/caption]
My very close friend LJR and I have cooked some seriously sick (and by sick I mean amazing) meals for some very discerning food and wine folks that wine included would have tipped the scales at over $500 a person at a great restaurant, and we were able to do it at a quarter of this price or less. Before you get all antsy and accuse me of not seeing the value in the service and attention to detail of a great restaurant; please know that I do indeed realize this and believe very strongly in the whole dog and pony show on occasion. However, remember the title of my article. I simply cannot afford to eat like a celebrity, but with the right ingredients, right guests, and the best non restaurant owning chef I know as a best friend, I can have the great gastronomic pleasures of life with relative frequency and still afford the unreal school loans I racked up from over 7 arduous years of college.
I cook well, because I am driven to eat. Eating is the first thought of my day each day and quite often the final thought in my mind before I shut my eyes. As my mom always said; I was born with Cadillac tastes and a Huffy bank account. I have never let that stop me.